Movie Recommendation: Holding the Man

Holding the Man is a heartbreaking, true story of a gay couple. What makes this story special? That it’s not today’s story. It is set in the 1970s. We know how even in 2021, gay couples are still fighting for their rights. How their families still don’t accept them! How they still pretend to be someone they are not so that society stops judging them for their sexuality. And this story talks being gay in the 70s.

I am not recommending this movie because I thought it’s extraordinary. No, it is not. The film could have been much better. So, the film is not extraordinary but the story is. Watch it for Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo. Watch it for their love. Watch it for their bravery. 

If you watch carefully, it will teach you a lot about life and relationships. 

Tim and John’s was a 15-year long relationship. Today, even the “straight” couples find it difficult to hold on to a relationship for such a long period, and these two men stood by each other through thick and thin without batting an eyelid. That kind of love is rare. 

What I missed in the film is the growing fondness and emotional bonding between the couple, especially during the earlier stages of a relationship. This story is based on the book written by Timothy Conigrave himself. As I haven’t read the book, I won’t be able to tell you if the makers have done justice to the story – whether they have modified a few details to make it suitable for a film or if Timothy hasn’t mentioned a lot about their emotional connect (again, in the earlier stages of the relationship), as the story progresses too quickly. 

Judging the film, I would say, like most other gay films, the focus seemed to be more on the sexual activities than the emotional bonding of the couple. But yes, when the movie takes a serious turn where both the couple gets diagnosed with HIV, it becomes painful to watch. The way Tim stands by John even when he is suffering from AIDS breaks your heart time and again. You want them to beat the odds this time as well. But when life decides to knock you out, you cannot do much about it. 

Talking about the performances, both the actors, Ryan Corr and Craig Stott have done a marvelous job. There is a scene between Tim and John where after bringing John back from the hospital, he tells Tim that while he was revived, he had been to another world for a while and it was peaceful there. The scene is so fantastically done that though it breaks your heart and leaves you teary-eyed, it truly tells you a lot about life, and of course, death. Hats off to both the actors for pulling off such difficult scenes with such ease. 

Even the love-making scenes, especially the one after Tim brings John home from the hospital doesn’t give you an awkward vibe just because two men are indulging in sexual activities. It’s filmed so beautifully that you forget that it’s a film. You get engrossed in their love. 

So yes, if you are looking forward to watching an unusual love story, a story that would reinstate your faith in love, go ahead and watch Holding the Man. You won’t regret it. 

P.S: Thank you for existing Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo. A love like yours is most needed today. 

Where to Watch? Netflix

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